Former president Barack Obama — who, like many of us, has been moved to tears by Franklin’s music and spirit — shared an emotional note about her passing.
“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine,” Obama wrote.
“Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance,” he continued.
He finished by saying, “Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.”
Franklin and Obama’s paths have crossed multiple times over his political career. She performed “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” during Obama’s first presidential inauguration in 2009.
Perhaps one of their most touching interactions, however, was Franklin’s rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” during the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. Her vocals were so moving that they brought the president to tears.
You can read Obama’s full statement here.